Tough times call for resolute leadership

Marco’s Co-CEO & President Tony Libardi cited in ‘Pizza Marketplace’ article on the best leadership lessons from 2020

Tony Libardi


There’s no getting around the fact that 2020 was a tough year, and that meant there were tough questions and tough answers. The restaurant industry took a hard hit, even in the generally better-off pizza segment.

Trade publication Pizza Marketplace took a look back and talked to leaders in the pizza industry about the lessons they learned during the most challenging year most of them have ever seen. Here’s what our own Marco’s Co-CEO and President Tony Libardi had to say:

“Pivot and plan ahead, always,” he told Pizza Marketplace. “The pandemic has forced leaders to be aggressive vs. conservative when it comes to innovation. By assembling a task force committed to the future, you’ll always have one step ahead – whether that’s the use of new technology, AI, robotics, social distance-friendly models, etc. By bringing a team together, you’re prioritizing the value of not only preparing for the future, but acting on it sooner. Leaders must have the courage to stop doing what used to work and move into unchartered territory to find long-term success.”

What leadership means at Marco’s

Libardi’s recent promotion to Co-CEO of the brand was validation for his effective leadership during good times and bad. Under his leadership, Marco’s Pizza celebrated a growth milestone when we reached the 1,000-store mark in fall 2020. Libardi set the tone for a “People First” culture that has helped cement our success.

Transparency and a willingness to trust the people around you are key. It’s important to know who your most trusted leaders are as well, since bigger isn’t always better when it comes to making tough decisions.

“Once you’ve assessed options and weighed outcomes, it may be time to take your ideas to another person or team,” Libardi wrote last year in Entrepreneur magazine. “For many business leaders this is a nonnegotiable step, but group decision-making is tricky and, if not handled properly, can result in poor decisions. Listening to differing perspectives will be helpful in arriving at a sound decision, but studies show it’s wise to avoid overcrowding the decision-making table. In fact, the ideal size for decision making as a group is between seven and nine people. Any more than that, and you risk encountering group think or other phenomena. In our case, we limited most recent decision-making to our tight-knit leadership team, which allowed us to be creative and think of ways to continually innovate in order to support long-term success of the business post-pandemic.”

Read more here about Libardi’s leadership tactics featured in various publications.

Looking forward

The pandemic changed us all, and while we can’t alter that fact, we can change how we react. Marco’s had a record-setting year for sales, and we will continue to move forward aggressively no matter what 2021 throws our way. Our leadership is committed to our growth goals, and we’re looking for more forward-thinking leaders to join us.

Learn more about the opportunities

If you’d like to learn more about the franchise opportunities with Marco’s, we welcome you to fill out the form below to download our free Franchise Information Report.